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hardwork
10-16-2006, 11:26 AM
Not a bad analysis of the Patriots.

HW



New-look Patriots are turning heads
National 'experts' like what they see

By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff ?|? October 16, 2006

Before Patriots players left for their bye weekend, coach Bill Belichick told them the NFL season was like a horse race.
His message was simple: The team should feel good about breaking out of the starting gate with a 4-1 record, but he reminded the players that no one remembers who leads the race early, only who crosses the finish line first.

Two national ``handicappers" -- NBC studio analyst Jerome Bettis and ESPN?s Ron Jaworski -- acknowledged they weren?t expecting the Patriots to be among the lead pack at this stage.

``I am pretty surprised, considering the wide receivers they lost," said Bettis, the former Pittsburgh Steeler. ``To me, the most impressive part of the Patriots is that they realize what they have, and what they don?t have, and they game-plan within that. A lot of teams will struggle with their identity when they?re not the same football team, asking `What are we?? I don?t see that from the Patriots.

``I see a team that is transforming from a pass-dominated team to a run-dominated team. Sometimes teams will fight those type of changes, but they seem to embrace them, and are willing to change overnight."

Jaworski isn't as surprised the Patriots are 4-1, because he believes they know how to win, but he wouldn't have predicted that record knowing how the offense has performed.

``I think they?re winning with a lackluster offense right now," he said. ``It?s clear that they are aware of their lack of vertical game. I don?t see a vertical threat on the team right now, and if you ask any safety the thing that scares him the most, it?s speed. So when you don?t see that on the other side, you don?t have to play as deep. I?m surprised they?ve been able to win without having that element."

CBS analyst Phil Simms doesn't disagree, but he believes that's the beauty of the NFL. Every team has a flaw, especially at this time of year. He feels the key is how those flaws are addressed as the horses in contention reach the latter parts of the race.

``I think the NFL season is the equivalent of five seasons, and we?re about ready to go through the first one," he said. ``We all need more time to evaluate and see. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, they floundered around for three quarters of last year, got hot, and won the Super Bowl.

``I?ve always believed this, and I?ve played on Super Bowl teams and watched it all, the thing you want to do now is keep trying to find yourself, keep finding a way to win games, and just hope that you hit your groove when it counts. The thing that I have a hard time with is that everyone wants the distinct answers right now.

They say New England is winning, but it?s not impressive. Not impressive? It seems like people expect greatness all the time and I?m not sure they understand how difficult it is at all levels in the NFL."

So what does Simms see when he looks at the Patriots?

``I see a really big football team that has a lot of extremely impressive parts to it," he said. ``Do I see a finished product? Absolutely not. Will it improve? I?m fairly confident, knowing the history and the coach. Is the team in transition a little? That might be a good way of putting it. But they?ve kept it in order, with some tough money decisions and adding some youth. They?re making a transition from a big-time Super Bowl team but still maintaining their place as one of the top teams in the league. That, in this day and age, is hard to do and might be impossible."

Simms agreed that one of the primary on-field areas of concern is the Patriots' outside-the-numbers passing game, because ``the NFL is about big plays."

``I get the sense they are trying to evolve into a strategy to make big plays with their outside people," Simms said. ``I kind of keep waiting to see Chad Jackson and where his role fits. But I go back to the fact that it?s still early. I think it has a chance to happen, and the big thing is that the team is not fighting from behind now [record-wise], which is huge. They still have room for error, and I see the potential for all their weaknesses to be addressed."

Jaworski has broken down some of the Patriots' game films, and he doesn't see one of those weaknesses being quarterback Tom Brady, despite Brady completing only 54 percent of his passes, one of the lowest marks in the league.

``When you look on tape, there is nothing wrong with Tom Brady," said Jaworski, a former quarterback. ``If there is a problem, it?s that the windows to throw into are a lot smaller. It?s more difficult when your only way to stretch the field is horizontally, not vertically.

``I think it does take time to develop a chemistry with the new receivers. You have to alter your offense a bit, but I wouldn?t say you can?t win. I think of Tampa Bay winning the Super Bowl in 2002 and they did it with Jon Gruden being very creative, with a lot of picks and rubs, cluster sets. He would free people up by design. You?re seeing more of that in this [Patriots] offense. They?re doing a good job designing plays tailored to the strength of their players."

Before yesterday's games, Bettis broke down his AFC contenders into two groups, putting the Patriots in the ``A class" along with the Ravens, Bengals, Chargers, Broncos, and Colts. Bettis said the ``B class" consists of the Jaguars, Chiefs, and Steelers.

Entering yesterday's action, Jaworski had the Chargers on the rise, and the Colts on the decline.

``The Colts? inability to stop the run has to be a concern," he said. ``Unless they shore up that front seven, this could be another one-and-done for them. On the other side, I think San Diego is really starting to get it together. As for the Patriots, I don?t think their overall talent level is where it has been, but I?m not saying they can?t get there. That defense is still very solid and I have such great respect for the organization. It?s hard to keep a run like that going."

Simms wonders if the Patriots are victims of their success.

``I watched the New England-Miami game and I heard rumblings in the crowd, even when Tom Brady was getting some passes knocked down," he said. ``I sensed that people were thinking, `The Dolphins are 1-3 and we should beat them by 50.? I think New England is in a tough place. They?ve won three Super Bowls, but it doesn?t seem like winning is good enough, they have to win with style, convincingly, to keep people happy. I guess I?d ask, `What does everyone expect?? "

Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2006/10/16/new_look_patriots_are_turning_heads/

Hines0wnz
10-16-2006, 12:05 PM
Not a bad analysis but......I'm just sick of hearing stories of how the Pats will win with nothing again and again. The real reason they are 4 and 1? Crappy division.

Stillers#1
10-16-2006, 12:43 PM
They whooped a team that beat us, from our division. Don't be a homer give credit where it is due.

Black@Gold Forever32
10-16-2006, 12:55 PM
I think I have said over and over that the Pats were the team still to beat in the AFC East and still one of the top four teams in the whole AFC. LITP can back me on this. If the Pats WR's step up then the Pats could very well indeed represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Looking at the AFC right now. I don't see a clear cut favorite right now.

The Colts are 5-0 but thats the most unimpressive 5-0 team I have ever seen. The Colts defense is again soft. I see the Colts winning their usual 12-13 games in the regular season. Come playoff time the Colts will fade like usual. I don't the Jags have enough offense to go the Super Bowl. Plus they lost their MLB Mike Peterson for the season. Thats a big loss.

The Pats will win the AFC East. Like I said above if the WR's step up for this team then they have a real good shot to make a Super Bowl run. I don't think the Jets, Bill or Dolphins has a shot at the playoffs.

The AFC West. To me the most impressing team in the AFC right now is the San Diego Chargers. Their defense is nasty and they have LT. But Philip Rivers is proving to be very good NFL QB. The Broncos have a really good defense. But Jake Plummer is their QB. Enough said.

The AFC North is getting interesting and will be interesting the rest of the year. Even though I think the Ravens are so overrated. They still are 4-2 and ontop of the North. So they still are a threat. But I think they are 9-7 at best. The Bengals are lucky to be 3-2 right now with that run defense. They are terrible at stopping the run. Plus the Bengals offense isn't clicking right now. The Steelers got a win they needed yesterday. But have to do it consistently now. I thought it would take 12-13 wins to win this division before the season started. I think it might only take 10-11 wins now. So all three have these teams have a shot at the North crown.

By the time the playoffs start. I think the AFC will be won by the team on a hot streak like the Steelers last year.

Livinginthe past
10-16-2006, 02:39 PM
I would agree with most assesments made in the article - the Patriots, just like the Steelers, are evolving - making the best of what they have - not what they want to have.

I have mentioned many times how ridiculous and fickle football fans can be - some Patriots fans do expect us to put teams away to the tune for 30 points every week.

The lack of a 'deep game' has caused New England some problems, it takes a while for these new receivers to get in sync with Brady - Gabriel and Jackson have plenty of speed to catch the deep ball if it thrown right - unfortunately Brady has been over/under throwing these guys so far.

32 I agree with what you said, you were one of the wiser posters who didnt write of the Patriots as 'old news' just as I refuse to write of the Steelers despite their rough start to the season.

At our worst, injury plagued, state last year we were porous against the run and the big pass play - but the Colts have major problems that go beyond even that - at least if teams want to throw there is risk invloved - with running plays there is very little.

The Colts are generally well coached, I think they will improve in this area once they get a few healthy bodies back.

I like San Diego aswell, as I didnt before the season started they have plenty of weapons on offense and have the potential to be the best D unit in the AFC.

The Ravens and Bengals do suffer from being one dimensional - all D and no D is a recipe for disaster - as the Steelers have shown even their excellent unit struggles when the O cant help them out.

NM

hardwork
10-16-2006, 06:26 PM
I saw an interview with Brady over the weekend. He seemed very confident. Not over confident. Not foolishly confident. Just confident that this team would continue to try and improve. Confident that the team had the right attitude. How well Brady and his receivers can play together is an unknown right now and he wasn't afraid to admit that. None of the Patriots leaders are into playing a shell game with themselves or the public. Brady, Harrison, and Bruschi, are going to pretty much lay it out there if you listen closely to what they say and don't say. And while you'll have trouble getting much directly out of Belichick all you have to do is watch his actions around the team. That'll tell you all you need to know. This year he's doing a lot of confidence building. And as you can see from the Brady interview, so is Tom. Whenever those guys and the coach open their mouth in public they are speaking most of all to the team itself.

Haiku_Dirtt
10-16-2006, 08:00 PM
I think I have said over and over that the Pats were the team still to beat in the AFC East and still one of the top four teams in the whole AFC. LITP can back me on this. If the Pats WR's step up then the Pats could very well indeed represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Looking at the AFC right now. I don't see a clear cut favorite right now.

The Colts are 5-0 but thats the most unimpressive 5-0 team I have ever seen. The Colts defense is again soft. I see the Colts winning their usual 12-13 games in the regular season. Come playoff time the Colts will fade like usual. I don't the Jags have enough offense to go the Super Bowl. Plus they lost their MLB Mike Peterson for the season. Thats a big loss.

The Pats will win the AFC East. Like I said above if the WR's step up for this team then they have a real good shot to make a Super Bowl run. I don't think the Jets, Bill or Dolphins has a shot at the playoffs.

The AFC West. To me the most impressing team in the AFC right now is the San Diego Chargers. Their defense is nasty and they have LT. But Philip Rivers is proving to be very good NFL QB. The Broncos have a really good defense. But Jake Plummer is their QB. Enough said.

The AFC North is getting interesting and will be interesting the rest of the year. Even though I think the Ravens are so overrated. They still are 4-2 and ontop of the North. So they still are a threat. But I think they are 9-7 at best. The Bengals are lucky to be 3-2 right now with that run defense. They are terrible at stopping the run. Plus the Bengals offense isn't clicking right now. The Steelers got a win they needed yesterday. But have to do it consistently now. I thought it would take 12-13 wins to win this division before the season started. I think it might only take 10-11 wins now. So all three have these teams have a shot at the North crown.

By the time the playoffs start. I think the AFC will be won by the team on a hot streak like the Steelers last year.

I think the paper tigers are the Broncos and the Bengals. I'm not buying into this Denver team. Proof in three weeks.

Until San Diego proves otherwise "their defense is nasty and they have LT. But Philip Rivers is proving to be very good NFL QB." Nuff said there.

"Come playoff time the Colts will fade like usual. I don't the Jags have enough offense to go the Super Bowl." Nuff said there.

Are the Patriots at the Top by default? No. Out of all the aforementioned organizations they have earned more than the benefit of the doubt.

After the Thanksgiving weekend I'm guessing the three teams the pundits will say "you don't want to play" in the post season are NE, the Chargers and the Steelers.

Cape Cod Steel Head
10-17-2006, 06:12 PM
Crappy division and a weak schedule. Although they do have a good running game and a pretty good QB.

Livinginthe past
10-17-2006, 06:21 PM
Crappy division and a weak schedule. Although they do have a good running game and a pretty good QB.

Yup.

That Tom Brady.

Pretty good QB.

NM

Stillers#1
10-17-2006, 09:04 PM
Crappy division and a weak schedule. Although they do have a good running game and a pretty good QB.

Once again, they stomped a team that beat us.....give credit where it is due.

Buzz05
10-18-2006, 01:46 PM
Crappy division yes...Dolphins were paper chaps, Jets are turning some heads. I am impressed with what they have going on there. The Bills are still a year or 2 away from playoffs talks. 'Pretty good QB' is where i disagree. Brady is infact the golden boy of the NFL, but lets face it..he earned it. You take Brady away from that team and I think that it would be more catestrophic then taking say....Peyton away from the Colts. No offense to any Pats fans but the Colts have play makers who can still...well...make plays. Take Brady away and all they have is a RB in the twilight of his career and a young one still learning the NFL game. Brady is that glue that holds that team together. There Defense seams to lose pieces every year and still they win. As much as it kills me to say it since they beat us twice in the AFC Title game...they almost deserve the hype they get. Until someone actually takes it away they are the 'Beast of the East' so to say.